Friday, January 21, 2011

I Saw Three Ships by Elizabeth Goudge

I ordered this book for the holidays, but the interlibrary loan service was a bit sluggish and it didn't arrive until January. Nevertheless I dove into the story because as a fan of both children’s lit and of Elizabeth Goudge, I had little doubt that I would like it. But I wasn’t prepared for how intensely I would like it. I am in wonder as to how Goudge created such a richly peopled tale around a traditional Christmas carol and made it work.

The story takes place in the late 1700’s in a coastal village in England. Polly’s parents have died in an accident and she has been living with her two maiden aunts for ten months. This is going to be her first Christmas with them and they are shocked with her announcement that the Wise Men will visit their cottage on Christmas Eve. Reading how the skeptical aunts soften and how Polly's dream comes true was a special treat.

A sample of Goudge’s lovely writing:

Dorcas gathered her old brown cloak firmly about her, as though the balmy southwest wind were a savage northeaster, and peered out from the recesses of her brown beaver bonnet like an owl from the shelter of a hollow tree. Nevertheless there was the hint of a smile upon her usually grim mouth. For though she did not admit it, she was enjoying this expedition in search of the erring Polly. The sharp tang of the seaweed lying in shining coils on the sand below her was delightful. The sparkle of the sea in the sunshine raised her spirits. Turning to look at the little town, she found she had forgotten how pretty it was with its steep cobbled streets climbing the hill, its old red roofs all higgledy-piggledy and the plumes of smoke from the chimneys azure in the clear air. (p. 28)


7 comments:

wayside wanderer said...

Really good Christmas books are so hard to find so I am especially thrilled to hear about this one. I'm putting it on my wish list. Thanks!

Sara said...

It is a wonderful story, most certainly! I'm so glad you liked it. As everyone knows by now, EG is my favorite author, even in her books for children, and her autobiography, The Joy of the Snow, is just as deep and thoughtful as her fiction.

Janet said...

We read this one (as a read-aloud) this year too; I actually purchased a copy. It didn't really take off for us, but I suspected that it was because of interruptions as we were working our way through it. Your review convinces me that we should definitely try again!

the Ink Slinger said...

This probably sounds really bad, but... I've never read anything by Elizabeth Goudge. Which means - especially after reading your glowing review - that I should definitely check her out! :)

Page Turner said...

Oh, that is just beautiful! I have had Elizabeth Goudge on my mental TBR list for some time, and this makes me want to read something of hers soon! I will put this on my list to read aloud to my kids next Christmas.

Emily J. said...

I was just thinking about Goudge. Too bad she is so hard to find in libraries. Have not read this one.

zetor said...

Just found your blog and am thoroughly enjoying it. I read my first Elizabeth Goudge book a couple of weeks ago , here is my review if you are interested,
http://zetor-mogsblog.blogspot.com/2011/01/sister-of-angels.html